Rangana Herath became the first left-arm bowler in Test cricket to pick nine wickets in an innings © AFP
Rangana Herath became the first left-arm bowler in Test cricket to pick nine wickets in an innings © AFP

 

By Amit Banerjee

 

Aug 16, 2014

 

Pakistan were bowled out for 332 in their first innings at the end of the first session of the third day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo. While Sarfraz Ahmed top-scored for the visitors by scoring a life-saving 103 from 127 balls, the highlight of the was Rangana Herath‘s magical display with the ball as he reached his career best figures of nine wickets for 127.

 

The day’s proceedings began with Pakistan resuming from their overnight score of 244 for six. All eyes were on Sarfraz and Herath from the opposite camps, both of whom had the major share of the team’s expectations resting on their shoulders. Sarfraz was without a set partner after having lost Asad Shafiq barely minutes before the end of play on the previous day.

 

The Sri Lankan camp on the other hand looked to eliminate the lower order as quickly as possible in order to walk out to bat for their second innings with a decent lead on their back. There were a few surprises in the morning as Angelo Mathews replaced Herath with  Chanaka Welegedera after the former managed to get rid of Rehman, who was starting to open up with a few strokes against spin.

 

Sarfraz’s innings was one that had a mix of patience and elegance, though he brought up his century in the most unconventional style. He smashed Welegedera for a four and a six off consecutive deliveries to bring up his maiden ton, his delight clearly showing on his face as he exulted after reaching the mark and immediately thanked his stars for the achievement.

 

Herath, who became the the fourth fastest spinner to reach 250 Test wickets, eventually brought his fabulous innings and a budding partnership to an end with a brilliant delivery that Sarfraz tried to drive towards the covers but only managed to get an outside edge that Niroshan Dickwella promptly caught. The Karachi-born glovesman was given a standing ovation on his journey back to the pavilion for rescuing his side from a certain collapse. With just a wicket left now and a few runs left to close the gap with Sri Lanka, Pakistan were hoping that the tail-enders would at least give them a lead.

 

All eyes were on Herath now as he looked set to become the first left-arm bowler and second Sri Lankan to take nine wickets in an innings after Muttiah Muralitharan. After a few missed opportunities and close calls, Herath managed to fox  spin-maestro Saeed Ajmal, who tried to give himself some room for a cut and only for him to miss it completely and get his leg stump rattled.

 

Sri Lanka will now hope for another strong start from the top-order and regain their lead in no time soon. The attention will now be on the batting legends Mahela Jayawardene, who will be playing his final Test innings and will hope to end on a high note, and Kumar Sangakkara, who needs 25 runs to surpass Brian Lara’s run tally and another 46 to become the fifth batsman to score 12,000 Test runs.

 

Brief scores:

Pakistan 332 (Ahmed Shehzad 58, Asad Shafiq 42, Sarfraz Ahmed 103;  Rangana Herath 9 for 127) lead Sri Lanka 320 (Upul Tharanga 92, Kausal Silva 41, Angelo Mathews; Junaid Khan 5 for 87) by 12 runs.

 

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(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, traveling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)